Convenient, natural products star at CRU

Published in Convenience Store Products

Retailers enthusiastic about foodservice solutions, healthier options

By  Melissa Vonder Haar, Tobacco Editor

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- During this year’s CSP Convenience Retailing University, hundreds of c-store retailers and suppliers descended upon The Renaissance Hotel in Glendale, Ariz. Besides taking “courses” on industry-related issues and making connections, attendees were granted previews of new products at the C-Store Product Gallery.

It’s no secret that consumers are looking for faster, healthier options at the c-store level. Fortunately, several companies are offering new products to address this issue, whether with more efficient equipment or healthy but tasty to-go snacking options. With this CRU story, Convenience Store Products takes a look at such trend-setters.

Bolthouse Farms Beverage Line

For retailers looking to offer healthier options without investing in new equipment, Bolthouse Farms is expanding its successful beverage line into the c-store channel. “More and more national convenience chains and independents are investing in the fresh trend,” said Jim Whitaker, Bolthouse Farms’ vice president IC beverage sales. “Our  premium beverages taste great and with their compelling nutritional content, they truly make a great c-store offering in the growing fresh category.”

The company uses high-quality ingredients including ripe fruits and crisp veggies to make their beverages (which include vitamin-packed smoothies and café drinks along with a protein plus line that boasts an impressive 30 grams of protein in a single serving). Bolthouse Farms premium beverages are cold-filled and delivered via cold-chain distribution, helping ensure the highest-quality taste for the product.

“The response to the Bolthouse Farms beverages at CRU was incredible,” Whitaker said. “The decision to attend was absolutely the right one and has provided the Bolthouse team with great c-store insights and leads.”

The TurboChef Encore

Several retailers attending CRU expressed enthusiasm over the foodservice solutions offered by TurboChef Technologies Inc. “All of our ovens are vent-less operations, no hoods required,” said Dave Shave, TurboChef’s vice president of global sales. “That means you can set up a food program virtually anywhere within the store. We’re able to now start to replace traditional pieces of equipment so we’re able to do panini-type sandwiches and fresh baked goods as well.”

The company’s latest oven is the TurboChef Encore, which uses radiant heat, high-speed air impingement, and side-launched microwave to cook food rapidly without compromising quality. “We’ve taken a lot of learnings over the last 10 years with our other products and made it more energy-efficient,” Shave said. “(The Encore) is about 20% faster and 30% more energy-efficient than our previous models. It’s all about sustainability and overall cost of ownership for the operator.”

Blendtec Self-Serve Smoothie Machine

Another equipment solution showcased was the Blendtec Self-Serve Smoothie Machine. During breaks in the general session, CRU attendees were able to experience just how easy it was to create their own healthy smoothie concoctions with this self-serve unit.

Described in the CRU New Products Guide as having “virtually limitless flavor combinations to choose from,” Blendtec’s Smoothie Machine makes it easy for just about any retailer to launch a customizable smoothie program.